Elance Blog

How StumbleUpon Can Work For You

Imagine a ‘friend’ who could recommend websites you’re interested in. Sound good? StumbleUpon could be the friend you’re looking for – and might just help you drive traffic to your website or blog while you’re at it.

Brian Reeder - Guest Contributor

StumbleUpon isn’t a search engine; it’s a web browser plugin that allows users to discover and rate web pages, photos, and videos. Once you download the plugin (don’t worry, it’s a fast download), you’ll use the StumbleUpon toolbar to “stumble” the web.

Most people use StumbleUpon as a source of entertainment or information. Say you have a few minutes to spare and you want to see something cool or new or interesting. Click the “Stumble!” button and you’ll go to a website chosen based on your initial preferences, your ratings of previous pages, and by users with similar interests. You can then give the site a thumbs up (“I like it!”) or a thumbs down (“No more like this”) to help StumbleUpon further refine its knowledge of your tastes and interests. It’s a great way to spice up your surfing and keep up-to-date on a variety of topics and subjects.

So, now what?
StumbleUpon can be a powerful marketing tool for any small business with a web presence. Here’s how you can start to incorporate StumbleUpon into your daily life and help bring customers to your website:

Create StumbleUpon-Friendly Content: Since clicking the “Stumble!” button is really easy, users will quickly pass by websites that don’t immediately grab their attention (of course, that’s the case for any website visitor).

So, your pages should be easily digestible.

Your home page should have strong images, a catchy title… anything that gives a visitor a reason to stick around, read your content, and learn more. Some sites just use an interesting image, while others use an in-depth article with supporting photos, videos, etc. Think of it this way: Newspaper headlines are designed to capture your attention and make you check out the article. Your website should be designed to capture attention and get users to want to check out your site.

In fact, many people use StumbleUpon to learn more about what content appeals to visitors. Stumble around your industry or area of interest and adapt what you learn to your own website and marketing efforts. You can also click the “Websites” tab to see the most popular sites in each category; it’s another quick way to get a feel for what the social media community likes.

That’s reason enough to check out StumbleUpon. But if you want to take it a step farther, consider taking your shot at becoming a Top Stumbler.

StumbleUpon is a recommendation system that shares social networking principles.  The users help determine content. “Top Stumblers” are considered to be the most active and helpful members - they find the content that most casual users stumble upon. Check out this list of the Top Stumblers (that's me -  the palm tree icon).

Top Stumblers influence content. The ability to put content in front of millions of users is extremely valuable for business and marketing purposes. If you own or run a business, building credibility within the StumbleUpon community is important because you can help a massive audience find your content. Since users choose their interests, traffic from StumbleUpon to your site is highly targeted – they’re looking for the content you provide.

How can you join me on the Top Stumbler page? Here are some tips:

Sign up for an account and download the toolbar. Stumble around a little to get a sense for how StumbleUpon works. But don’t “thumbs down” any content – it won’t help your profile and it won’t help you build friends (as you’ll see in a minute, you’ll need friends).

Create your profile. Upload an image, provide a bio, and share your interests. Interests are very important because they help determine not only what you see, but also gives others in the community an idea of who you are. Remember, StumbleUpon is a social community – let people get to know you.

Add Top Stumblers as friends. Simply view their profile and click “Add him/her as a friend.” Making friends with Top Stumblers helps you build your standing. Take it a step farther, though: Send a personal message to each person you add. For example, I sent notes saying, in effect, “Hey, I appreciate your stumbles, I really enjoy the sites you like…” Try to make a personal connection. In my case, half of them immediately added me as a friend – then I could send sites to them and quickly get more thumbs up for sites I wanted to promote.

Think of it this way: Since I’m a Top Stumbler, tons of people blindly ask me to add them as a friend – but why should I? I want to add friends who are interested in furthering the community. Make sure your requests include a personal touch.

Develop your own methods for finding quality content. News sites are great sources because they’re constantly updated. So are sites like YouTube and Flickr, or large and influential blogs… or maybe just a site with humorous material you happen to run across. Pick 3 to 5 sites you’ll visit every day and look for one or two good pieces of content you can discover and pass on to your StumbleUpon friends.

Continue to add influential friends. Each user profile shows that person’s stats: How many friends they have, how many sites they’ve liked, etc. Look for users who have liked more than 500 sites and who have at least 50 friends.

Build your profile and your influence. StumbleUpon lets you have up to 200 friends, and friends help you build your profile. Once you start submitting quality content, you’ll start building a base of friends. Send content to those friends and say, “Hey, I thought this was really cool, I think you’ll like it…” and they may give it a thumbs up as well. The more thumbs up you get the more people will visit a website. If one person gives a thumb up, the site may get a hundred visitors. If 100 give thumbs up, that may drive 10,000 visitors. Lots of thumbs up will create tons of traffic.

But don’t self-promote. The social media community doesn’t like shameless self-promotion. Build relationships with other users and they’ll find your content and make sure you’re submitted.

If you think becoming a Top Stumbler isn’t possible, you’re wrong. I signed up on StumbleUpon in October 2007 and by December I was one of the top 50 stumblers in the world. I try to find 30 to 50 new websites a day – I look for good content that hasn’t been discovered yet. Why? To help casual stumblers find fun, informative, and useful content.

Marketing efforts aside, that’s what StumbleUpon is all about – so check it out!

Brian Reeder is a social media professional who is passionate about furthering the quality of web content. He first joined StumbleUpon to help market dbclay.com, an eco-friendly wallet supplier. Brian also manages 7 websites, has 3 personal blogs, and also creates content for 9 other blogs.


Yes "Stumble" do sends some valuable traffics to my sites. It acts as a good refferal platform for business owners with a web presence.

Brian, you are confused IMHO. Title of the email and your post is "Drive traffic to your website", yet you write "don't self promote". These are 2 mutually exclusive concepts.

IMHO Social networks will have a tendency to be devalued by advertisers. Those that will allow more ads, will eventually become ad dumps, and people will leave to other "new" networks that "don't have ads". And the cycle will go on. I don't believe social networks are a good platform for long-term advertising strategies, except if you are big and everyone already knows your brand. But time will tell.

I personally know Brian and he is really a champ on social media websites. Brian You really did a great job to write this article. I am a fan of you.

I think Aleksi missed the main point. Brian recommends using StumbleUpon to help you learn what kinds of content are attractive to visitors - and if you apply the lessons you learn to your website, stumblers will find you, recommend you... and you'll bring in more visitors. Nowhere did he recommend you should recommend your own pages - he just recommends making your pages stumble-friendly.

Then, if you want to be a top stumbler, he gives some recommendations, "so you help casual stumblers find fun, informative, and useful content."

I read it differently than Aleksi. Brian recommends learning about StumbleUpon so you can learn how to create content on your website that's stumble-friendly. Then, if you want to be a Top Stumbler, he provides some tips.

So driving traffic comes from creating compelling content - that's not self-promotion, it just makes good social media (and SEO) sense. Plus I would imagine Top Stumblers who self-promote wouldn't stay Top Stumblers for long anyway, so that would not only be SM "unethical," it would also be self-defeating.

There is a cap on how many friends(200?) you can have so many of the top stumblers are already maxed out so they will be your admirers not friends.

I've been using Stumble for almost a year. Find friends with like interests and use Stumble. Once you establish a friendship its like having your own Stumble Club when you send them something from your site. But you do have to have a relationship with them first. You can also create that with other website owners but happily I didn't.